List of the 20 Best Universities and Colleges in the World

Jun 09, 2011

Top universities and colleges can be recognized by their world-class faculty, range of academic activities and cutting edge research facilities. Find out more about the best universities and colleges in the world.

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School Overviews

While many of the top universities and colleges in the world are in the United States, students looking for an international school have many highly-ranked options to consider. All of the schools on this list have been included on lists of top international universities, such as the Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Academic Ranking of World Universities and the Times Higher Education's World University Rankings list. All of these schools offer both undergraduate and graduate degree programs and are known for their strong research programs and attracting talented students and faculty.

1. Harvard University

School Highlight: Many of Harvard University's programs and graduate schools have been ranked #1 by U.S. News & World Report, including its medical school, and its economics, political science and biological sciences graduate programs.

Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the United States, Harvard University was founded in 1636, making it the oldest university in the United States, and has more than 360,000 alumni worldwide. Its notable alumni include 32 heads of state, 48 Pulitzer Prize winners and 47 Nobel Laureates. The school has a long-standing reputation as one of the best universities in the world - it has been ranked #1 on Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) from 2003-2015. Its degree programs are offered through 11 academic schools and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

2. University of Oxford

School Highlight: Oxford was ranked second in the world in the Times Higher Education's university rankings for 2014 and was placed in the 10th spot on the Academic Ranking of World Universities list in 2015.

The University of Oxford in Oxford, England, is the oldest university in the English-speaking world and has been listed among the top universities in the world for more than nine centuries. University of Oxford students represent more than 140 nationalities, and 94% of students secure a job or enroll in further study within six months of graduating.

3. California Institute of Technology

School Highlight: In 2014, the school was ranked #1 by the Times Higher Education list of world universities and was #7 on the Academic Ranking of World Universities list released in 2015.

More commonly known as Caltech, the U.S.'s California Institute of Technology is a world-renowned research university with a reputation for intense academics. Globally known facilities on this campus include the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Seismological Lab and International Observatory Network.

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Top Universities and Colleges in the World

School Name Distinction Location
Columbia University Times Higher Education ranks Columbia 14th on their list of world universities in 2014 United States
Cornell University Produced 43 Nobel laureates as faculty members or alumni and has more than 100 interdisciplinary research organizations United States
ETH Zurich Ranked 13th on the Times Higher Education list of world universities in 2014 Switzerland
Imperial College London A science-based institution ranked #9 in the world by Times Higher Education World University Rankings in 2014 United Kingdom
Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT community holds 80 Nobel Laureates United States
Princeton University Has 10 libraries and more than 14 million in holdings United States
Stanford University Has a $1.33 billion research budget and more than 5,300 externally sponsored research projects United States
University College London Has the lowest student-to-faculty ratio among U.K. schools United Kingdom
University of British Columbia 11,965 international students from 139 countries Canada
University of California, Berkeley Ranked #4 by theAcademic Ranking of World Universities in 2015 United States
University of California, Los Angeles Has 40 doctoral programs nationally ranked in the top 10 in their field United States
University of Cambridge The Times Higher Education's 2014 student experience survey rated the school #3 for well-structured courses United Kingdom United Kingdom
University of Chicago Launched UChicago Urban Labs to test urban polices and programs in areas such as crime, education, energy and environment, health, and poverty. United States
University of Pennsylvania Home of the 3rd ranking Wharton School of Business, according toU.S. News & World Report United States
University of Tokyo Chemistry department has maintained a reputation of excellence for 150 years, which predates the university Japan
University of Toronto Offers more than 700 undergraduate and 400 graduate programs Canada
Yale University 96% of students graduate within five years United States
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